Mind over matter- does it sound so preposterous to you?
Have you ever seen images of the loincloth-clad Buddhist monks which hold up in some wintry mountain fastness, somehow unaffected by the cold as snow piles up around them? Have you ever wondered how they do it?
Do you live in a reality where the control of your own mind is beyond you, and your thoughts run wild?
If so, you probably think having much control of your reality is out of the question.
If you think this is the case, you’re right, of course, but by getting a firm hold of the mind, you can can make yourself a new reality.
Mind Over Matter: My Own Story
I spent much of my life severely overweight. I suffered from debilitating headaches and periodic back pain, and I was long convinced that my physical problems would hound me for the rest of my life. Other children tormented me over my weight, and I was miserable.
I ate the same foods as my older brother, who remained trim while I packed on weight. This above all else convinced me that I was just genetically cursed, and that my lifestyle choices wouldn’t make any difference.
No one taught me a worthwhile way to remember facts and master academic topics when I was young, which meant I was labeled as learning disabled in school, despite being bright.
So in my mind, not only was I physically ugly, but I was mentally useless as well.
By junior high school I was was severely depressed, and I dreaded almost every day. I gradually started to suffer from digestive complaints, which turned out to be Colitis years down the road.
I remember sitting on my bed at home while I was in junior high, trying to imagine a future for myself. My thoughts had become so grim that I literally could not even hope for anything moderately good. I was convinced that no one would ever love me, and my life would forever be tinted with the dark cloud that filled my mind.
I tried telling my mom a few times, but what could they she say? She told me to buck up and pull myself together. After all, I was living in a comfortable, middle class family in the freest nation on earth. I could do whatever I pleased with myself, and accomplish whatever I set my mind on.
Yet all this possibility was invisible to me. I couldn’t look beyond my own miserable body and see the grand horizon.
Mind Over Matter: How The Tables Have Turned
Today, I sometimes look back at the mentality I had in high school and can’t manage to associate with it. My mind has changed so dramatically that my youth is almost alien to me. Most of the memories remain, but they just seem like fragmented blurbs of someone else’s life, and the beliefs I held seem like the bizarre tenants of a strange religion.
I now weigh a trim 165 pounds, 55 pounds lighter than my high of 220 pounds at age 17. I’m extremely athletic, and a nice 15-mile run sounds like fun to me.
Had 17-year-old Andrew been presented with the idea of running such a distance, he would have gone pale with dread.
My colitis symptoms are long gone, along with those backaches and headaches, which once ruled my existence.
In college I studied English, and I generally scored highest, or at least at the top of the class, in my courses.
I even learned that my great weaknesses, math and science, could not deter me from reaching my goals if I brought the full weight of my mind against them.
I decided to take a math-heavy astronomy lab course in my senior year in college. By that time I was so on top of my mind that I was able to almost ace the class, finishing just a fraction of a point behind the leader of the class, who was a math major. More than a quarter of the class flunked, and I knew that I would have been in that group had I not learned about mind over matter
Mind Over Matter: Put Your Resources To Work
Your physical reality can change without your involvement, which can temporarily make you happier if the change is good, but another dip in circumstances will send you cascading down into the doldrums again. That is, of course, if you haven’t learned a bit about mind over matter over matter.
Your mind is not some static beast, as good as it ever will be and largely outside of your control, as many think of it. It’s actually nimble, and very responsive to how you use it.
Scientists long believed by early adulthood the had brain solidified, and little plasticity could be expected afterwards. Within the last decade, however, researchers have had the technology to begin mapping how the brain changes to adapt to the demands we make on it, and the results are astounding.
If the human brain were so simple that we could understand it, we would be so simple that we couldn’t. -Emerson Pugh
As Sharon Begley outlines in her excellent book, Train Your Mind, Change Your Brain, we now know what we persistently think and meditate about has the power to radically alter our brains.
The brain of a master pianist is radically different than that of a musical beginner. Someone who loses their vision really does have their other senses rewired and improved.
The people who register as the happiest on earth are Buddhist monks, who have in some cases spent decades meditating on love and compassion. When hooked up to scanners and asked to be happy, their brains explode with color, while meditative beginners in the control group can hardly muster any change at all.
There’s no question that how you use your brain can have a dramatic effect on your life.
Mind Over Matter: Hitching A Ride Out Of the Dark
I was able to escape my misery because I stumbled on a path in darkness, and just started trudging down it. In a sense, I’m still on that path.
It started with just a glimmer that I didn’t even imagine to be of importance. I became fascinated with Ninjitsu, and began taking classes in my junior year of high school. I read everything I could about the art, and practiced at home even on days off from classes.
My overweight body was inept at the precise movements necessary, but the subtleness of the fighting style, and its seeming disregard for the demands of physics, absolutely fascinated me. I concentrated on it to such a degree that, for the first time in years, I lost a bit of myself in the joy of a pursuit.
My sensei introduced me to Yoga as a warm up technique capable of increasing my flexibility, and before long I’d added that onto my after school routine. Soon I’d picked up Light on Yoga, which was far too advanced for me, but which gave me something new to work toward.
After a few months of this, I was dressing one morning when I noticed my pants were sagging around my waist. I grabbed a belt and shrugged it off, but the notion that, for the first time in my life I had was managing to positively affect my physical self, despite what I believed to be genetic fate, did not escape me.
So my horizons moved back a bit. I began reading up on diet, and soon found the work of a number of vegan doctors. First I made small dietary changes. I cut way back on deserts and processed snacks and started drinking water instead of milk, which was long a three-times-a-day staple of my diet.
As soon as I had done so it was as if a flood gate had opened. Water weight my body was storing to deal with the toxins I was taking in was no longer needed, and my weight dropped dramatically.
I was astounded, and so was everyone else. I was beginning to see that I was not the powerless, worthless individual I imaged myself to be. I began to see that mind over matter might be real, and it was empowering. I hadn’t come full circle, but I had turned a corner.
Mind Over Matter: Get Started
If you want happiness, a better body, more friends, or just about anything else, what you believe and what you think about offers amazing possibilities for improving your situation.
Mind over matter is not a coherent single technique, but an overall ideology made up dozens of possible strategies for bettering the state of your mind.
Some people will groan at the thought of meditation, and they need not be constrained by this, though meditation is probably one of the most powerful means of mental change.
In the attached articles I hope to outline some of the techniques I’ve used to bring myself from the depths of depression to a happy existence full of possibilities.
By working with your mind and cultivating inspiration ans success, you can drastically improve your situation.
Mind Over Matter: Subpages
Mind Over Matter: Following Up
Learn more about how to use your mind to achieve what you want in life from my Raw Food Lifestyle Ebook.
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